Paddington Station is one of the most famous train stations in the world. Its name is synonymous with a much-loved bear from Peru, and it has survived with few modifications down the decades.
The permanent Paddington Station opened on the 29th of May, 1854, replacing a temporary facility, and was designed by none other than Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Brunel (who also designed much of the Great Western Railway, of which Paddington is the terminus) brought a measured, considered approach to his projects, and Paddington was no exception. The station is magnificent, and easily deserves to stand alongside St Pancras and King’s Cross, in terms of majesty.
From Paddington, passengers can voyage across the Great Western Mainline to Bristol, Oxford, Cardiff, Exeter, and Plymouth. Local services include trains to Reading, and Heathrow Airport. Thanks to the recently-opened Elizabeth Line, passengers can also travel through central London to Liverpool Street, and connect to services on the Great Eastern Mainline.
The route is quite scenic. I’ve travelled to Bristol to see relatives on several occasions, and the landscape is beautiful. The journey is easily among the most pleasant on the network, as is the station itself, however, Paddington’s biggest claim to fame is arguably a beloved children’s book (and cartoon character). In fact, the relationship between Paddington Station and Paddington Bear is quite symbiotic. Michael Bond named the character after the station, having been inspired by a teddy bear he found in a shop near the station, and also by the evacuations of children via the station during WWII. In time, people associated the station with the bear, and thus, the legacy of the station is secure, thanks to a loveable and kind cartoon bear, which is quite romantic, don’t you think?